AfCFTA & Mastercard Empower Women and Youth

The African Continental Free Trade Area [AfCFTA] Secretariat, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and TradeMark Africa, has announced a four-year fisheries program. This initiative, spanning seven countries, aims to create over 240,000 jobs and boost fish trade by $100 million by 2028. Named the “Women and Youth Economic Empowerment in Fisheries” program, it seeks to involve more women and young people in the fisheries sector, aligning with the AfCFTA Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade. The announcement took place during the 14th Meeting of the Council of Ministers responsible for Trade in Zanzibar.

This program addresses challenges faced by women and youth in the fisheries value chain. It will provide training, facilitate market and finance access, strengthen supply chain connections, create digital solutions, simplify trade processes, ensure compliance with standards, and streamline cross-border market access.

This initiative is a result of collaboration between the AfCFTA Secretariat and the Mastercard Foundation, beginning with the AfCFTA private sector strategy to enhance intra-African trade. TradeMark Africa will implement the program, benefiting Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises [SMMEs] in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC], Zambia, Nigeria, and selected island states.

The fisheries sector is crucial for food security and economic stability in Africa, employing over 12 million people, mostly women involved in processing and marketing. The AfCFTA offers a unified market, but women and youth need support to fully benefit.

H.E. Wamkele Mene highlighted the AfCFTA’s potential to foster entrepreneurship and job creation in a market of 1.4 billion people, emphasizing the need to eliminate trade barriers for women and youth to achieve inclusive economic development.

Ms. Allen Sophia Asiimwe, Deputy CEO of TradeMark Africa, emphasized that this program is a crucial step towards inclusive trade and job creation, aiming to overcome structural barriers faced by women and youth in the fisheries value chain.

Mr. Daniel Hailu, Executive Director of Pan-African Programs at the Mastercard Foundation, noted that the program could create dignified work opportunities, enhance intra-African trade, and contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction, laying the foundation for a more equitable and sustainable future.

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